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Mile-wide tornado devastates Oklahoma City area

OKLAHOMA CITY, May 20 (UPI) — A mile-wide tornado cut a devastating swath through the Oklahoma City area Monday, destroying schools, a hospital and other structures.

Earlier story

The National Weather Service issued a tornado emergency for the Oklahoma City metro area Monday, hours after a rash of twisters ripped through five states.

A twister was spotted in Newcastle, Okla., Monday afternoon, mere hours after tornadoes raced through Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri, killing two people, injuring 21 and destroying dozens of homes, authorities said.

Video showed a tornado heading for Moore, Okla., just south of Oklahoma City.

Tornadoes were reported Sunday and Monday, with baseball-size hail and other harsh conditions in the forecast, CNN reported.

The Oklahoma medical examiner identified two men killed by a twister that leveled a trailer park in Pottawatomie County as Glen Irish, 79, and Billy Hutchinson, 76, both of Shawnee, The Oklahoman reported.

At least 21 injuries were reported in Oklahoma and more in Missouri.

More than two dozen tornadoes were reported in Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois and Iowa, the National Weather Service said, explaining that some of the reports could have been of the same tornadoes.

Early Monday, a tornado touched down in Golden City, Mo., and buzzed through two counties, Barton County Emergency Management Director Tom Ryan said. The number of people injured and the extent of the damage wasn’t immediately known.

More tornadoes were spotted in several locations in Iowa and in Carroll County, Ill., weather service officials said.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for 16 counties. She said the declaration could be amended if necessary.

Emergency management officials reported dozens of homes were destroyed, The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City reported.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission reported 23,000 utility customers were without power.

One tornado flipped three tractor-trailers and damaged four other vehicles at the Interstate-40-U.S. 177 overpass just west of Shawnee, sending several people to hospitals, officials said.

Truck driver David Bergquist said he was under the I-40 bridge near Shawnee as the tornado approached, comparing the scene to a popular 1996 movie about tornadoes and their power.

“What they did on ‘Twister’ was pretty damn accurate,” he told The Oklahoman. “All I lost was a windshield.”

Near Carney, Janee Keiser said she, her mother, her daughter and two granddaughters holed up in a cellar as a tornado wiped out their home.

“It’s gone — all the buildings, all the cars,” Keiser said. “It took the garage, the barn, the shed — it took it all.”

“But we’re all fine and that’s the most important thing,” she said. “The other stuff can be rebuilt.”

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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